Fall Gardening: Healing and Harvesting

Fall Gardening: Healing and Harvesting

Spending time in nature can be an excellent escape if you are struggling with substance abuse. Nature in itself can be very healing. Research suggests that actually interacting with nature through gardening or horticulture therapy can be even more beneficial. Spending some time planting or harvesting, even in the fall, can be very calming.

When was the last time you spent some time in a garden? While you may think it is a seasonal activity, there are actually quite a few things that can be planted and harvested in the fall.

Gardening is something some people may do as a hobby. For others, gardening can serve as a therapeutic experience. Watching the fruits of your labor grow and flourish can be very rewarding and healing. Seeing the end product is always fulfilling. Believe it or not, the process of planting, watering, and nurturing can be just as gratifying.

Healing Through Gardening

Let's dig a little deeper into the healing benefits of gardening and interacting with plants. Some people may really enjoy spending time in a garden, while others may not feel that they have a green thumb at all. Others may feel indifferent or have little experience with gardening.

When you think of gardening, you probably think of planting, trimming, watering, or harvesting. Other activities allow for interaction with gardens and plants too. Here at Enlightened Solutions, our therapeutic horticulture program utilizes natural materials to encourage healing and learning.

This can sometimes involve gardening tasks, but often it looks more unconventional. For example, a session might include making tea from freshly picked herbs from the garden. Or, it may involve seeding pumpkins in the fall to represent new goals and a new life in recovery.

The Farm at Enlightened Solutions

For those who have a green thumb or are interested in learning more about gardening tasks and practices, the farm offers clients an opportunity to learn hands-on. Our staff teaches you the importance of caring for something other than yourself and instills the value of working hard to grow organic and nutritious foods for yourself and your community.

Enlightened Solutions continues to offer activities and programs at the farm throughout the fall and winter seasons. This includes markets, volunteering opportunities, and a transitional employment program for clients.

Gardening in the fall can offer all of the same therapeutic benefits provided in the warmer months. If anything, the cooler temperatures might make the experience even more comfortable. Growing your own organic and nutritious produce can be very empowering and motivating.

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer many programs at our farm that provide opportunities for learning new skills and healing. Staff members encourage clients to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. Many even discover talents and abilities they didn't realize they possessed.

Skill Building on the Farm

While you are healing through our programs such as therapeutic horticulture, you can also learn new skills. Many are surprised by how much they enjoy gardening and farm work. The things you learn while engaging in therapeutic horticulture or other Enlightened Farm programs can help you once you complete treatment and enter recovery.

The skills and knowledge you gain while participating in these programs can also aid you in future employment. You can update your resume with meaningful experiences while still undergoing addiction treatment. This is ideal as it can help eliminate gaps in employment and help you build interest in new potential career fields.

Finding Purpose in Recovery

Engaging in programs at the Enlightened Farm can also provide you with purpose. The work you put in to maintain and care for the garden is for the greater good. You are helping to provide healthy and organic foods for others in treatment and your community.

Knowing that you are caring for something other than yourself and helping it flourish can restore purpose in your life. Many find giving back to be rewarding and motivating. Following addiction, finding purpose and motivation in life can make all the difference.

The skills and knowledge you gain as a result of therapeutic horticulture and farm programs can also revive your sense of purpose. It can be easy to lose touch with your strengths, interests, and skills while under the hold of addiction. You likely are not practicing them much during this time. By participating in gardening and farm activities, you can be reminded of the things that you love and discover new things you may have a gift for.

Cooler temperatures do not mean garden activities and programs stop. Fall gardening is in full swing at the Enlightened Farm, and so is our therapeutic horticulture program. This means that healing through gardening and interacting with nature can continue regardless of the season.

Gardening and spending time in nature is an excellent form of therapy. It not only pleases the senses but can serve as a temporary escape from stressors or worry. At Enlightened Solutions, we are rooted in a commitment to the health and sustenance of the earth and all humanity. Our goal is to support and nourish those struggling with substance use disorder and mental illness with holistic and evidence-based therapies. These include our horticulture therapy and other farm-based programs, which cultivate gratitude and connection among the members of our recovery community. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, reach out to Enlightened Solutions today by calling (833) 801-LIVE


Gardening: A Little Dirt Won't Hurt

Gardening: A Little Dirt Won't Hurt

Do you have a green thumb? It is the time of year for planting and growing. Maybe you look forward to this season, or perhaps you would rather do anything other than spend time weeding, planting, and harvesting. It does get a little dirty, after all.

You may feel intimidated by gardening, having little experience or exposure to plants. The truth is, anyone can reap the benefits of gardening and caring for plants, green thumb or not. It just requires a willingness to dedicate a little time to interact with nature and the desire to learn.

Gardening, while it seems simple, can actually be very therapeutic. Believe it or not, this theory dates back to the late 1700s, which is when gardening was first considered to be a form of therapy used to benefit individuals suffering from mental illness. Since then, horticultural therapy has evolved and become more widely utilized in various clinical and treatment settings.

Horticultural Therapy Defined

Horticultural therapy is defined as the use of gardening or plants to improve one's mental or physical health. Methods can vary depending on the population being served and for what purpose. Strategies could include caring for plants, viewing plants or nature, or harvesting food from plants. This form of therapy can be used in many different settings such as hospitals, treatment facilities, and even prison systems. Studies have shown vast improvements in both mental and physical health of individuals who were exposed to or engaged with gardens or green spaces during times of need.

Benefits of Horticultural Therapy

The therapeutic effects of gardening result from several different components of the activity. In summary,  gardening combines physical activity with social interaction and exposure to nature and sunlight. Gardening typically takes place outdoors in an esthetically pleasing setting. Various studies have been conducted on the benefits of spending time in a green space, and what could be greener than a garden? Regular interaction with nature has been shown to improve healing and reduce stress and anxiety. Even viewing trees or plants can help improve your mood and promote positive change. Engaging with nature results in even better outcomes.

Maintaining a garden requires care and attention. This level of dedication has tremendous benefits for those experiencing hardships. Gardening can serve as an outlet, something positive to focus on during treatment. Many battling drug or alcohol addiction feel as though they have lost control of their lives. Maintaining a garden offers a sense of control and responsibility for something that feels manageable.

Reduces Stress

Gardening has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which, in turn, reduces stress. What about gardening specifically reduces stress, you may ask? Spending time caring for plants or even pulling weeds distracts your mind from other, more burdensome thoughts and directs your attention to the immediate task you are completing. Spending between 20-30 minutes in nature or caring for a garden significantly reduces levels of the stress hormone, resulting in a more calm and peaceful mood.

Encourages Productivity

There is nothing quite like getting to watch and enjoy the fruits of your labor. By growing your own food, herbs, or even flowers, you are able to see the product of your hard work. Caring for plants and feeling responsible for them can create a sense of purpose. This can be very rewarding and even empowering during a time when you may feel powerless in many aspects of your life.

Promotes Physical Activity

If you have ever worked in a garden, you know it can be hard work! There is quite a bit of bending, digging, and movement involved. Gardening is a great way to squeeze in a little physical activity that feels less like exercise and more like a hobby. Growing your own food also encourages healthier eating. You are more likely to eat healthy foods when they are easily accessible. What area is more accessible than your backyard?

Gardening During Treatment and Recovery

Spending time caring for plants or a garden during treatment and throughout recovery can serve as an excellent therapeutic outlet. As mentioned, gardening can help ease the negative thoughts and burdens you may be carrying by directing your focus to the present. The environment alone can be uplifting, and feeling the responsibility to care for something and succeed in that task can be very rewarding.

Health and wellness are incredibly important during treatment and throughout recovery. Gardening promotes healthy eating and physical activity and encourages frequent exposure to nature. Each of these components is important to good mental and physical health. Experiencing nature is encouraged throughout treatment and recovery, so time spent getting your hands a little dirty in a garden is time well spent.

Gardening is a hobby for many, but for others, it can also be very therapeutic. Caring for plants or a garden produces a sense of purpose, pride, and responsibility. When these efforts are successful, and you are able to see the outcomes of your work, it can be very rewarding and empowering. Spending time in nature has been proven to have healing benefits and improve mental and physical health. Gardening encourages physical activity, outdoor exposure, and healthy eating, all of which work together to promote overall well-being. Enlightened Solutions incorporates gardening as part of the treatment experience and encourages frequent interaction with nature. Allow us to help you discover a more fulfilling life by offering programs designed to give you a healthy and fulfilled life. If you or someone you care about is battling substance abuse, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE